File picture. Picture: Independent Media

Kimberley - The number of daily patient assessments that Sassa doctors, working in the Northern Cape, have to do a day has been increased from 40 to 80 to address the shortage of doctors in the Province.

This is according to Sassa (South African Social Security Agency) Northern Cape spokesperson, Inno Khunou, who said on Wednesday that the agency in the Frances Baard District was on a drive to recruit medical doctors to assess social grant applicants for disability grants.

Khunou was reacting in a follow-up statement to reports that hundreds of people with ill health or disabilities in the Province are not able to access their social benefit grants from Sassa because of a lack of doctors to assess their condition.

Some patients reported that they had been waiting since December last year to see a Sassa doctor.

“On the one hand, Sassa finds itself dealing with medical doctors who want to assist with medical assessments but are not registered on government’s Central Supplier Database, as required. On the other hand, some of those doctors are also not Sars compliant as prescribed by National Treasury.”

Khunou said that the majority of the Sassa contracted doctors for medical assessments were employed by the State.

“The situation in the Northern Cape, where there is a dire shortage of assessing doctors for Sassa, was compounded by the regulations governing conducting business with an organ of state, which prohibited civil servants to do business with the State."

“Sassa, having experienced the impact the regulation had on its operations, immediately appointed and assigned five technical quality assurance doctors to its different regions, to ameliorate the situation. As a matter of urgency, the contracted number of 40 was increased to 80 assessments per doctor per day.”

She added that the Northern Cape office also proactively engaged the Western Cape region to assist with the assessment of applicants in the Namaqua district.

“Frances Baard is using two of the technical quality assurance doctors.”

Khunou added that in the meantime, plans were afoot to engage relevant government departments to discuss the dire need for intervention at the highest level.

“For more information, beneficiaries or community members are requested to contact the NC toll free line on 0800 003 077.”

Diamond Fields Advertiser